Urgent dental care services across the south west

Since the Prime Minister announced social distancing measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19, a set of restrictions on daily activity to contain the spread of the virus were introduced. All non-urgent dental activity has stopped in line with the changes to people’s everyday lives that the Prime Minister has signalled.
In light of the public health control measures and in recognition of the difficulties that dental practices face, including continuing concerns about staff safety, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) is making a number of immediate changes to the delivery and operation of our dental services in the south west region.

Developing the local urgent dental care system

Across every NHS region local urgent dental care (UDC) systems are being created to provide care for people with urgent and emergency dental problems.

The hubs are being established to meet the distinct needs of people with urgent dental care needs:

  • those who are possible or confirmed COVID-19 patients – including patients with symptoms, or those living in their household
  • those who are ‘shielded’, as being at most-significant risk from COVID-19
  • those who are vulnerable/at increased risk from COVID-19
  • any other people who do not fit 1 of the above categories

Hubs are being developed to allow appropriate separation and treatment of patients in these categories.

Each patient will be assessed and triaged depending on a number of factors, and their care managed accordingly. Patients will only be seen after a referral via the triage system. Drop-ins are not permitted.

Locations of urgent dental centres

15 locations have been chosen to cover the south west as best as possible, within limitations posed by staffing and equipment. This means that some patients will need to travel.

With the initial service now operational, further centres are likely to be added to reduce journey time. The locations of the hubs are:

  • Bodmin
  • Plymouth
  • Bath
  • Bournemouth
  • Bridgwater
  • Bristol
  • Cheltenham
  • Chippenham
  • Dorchester
  • Exmouth
  • Gloucester
  • Swindon
  • Taunton
  • Torquay
  • Weston Super Mare

The precise locations will not be publicised, as hubs are accessible by referral only; drop-ins are not permitted.

How will triage work?

Triage will be used to decide which category people fall into, depending on their symptoms and level of pain.

The triage categories are:

  • Requires immediate treatment on the day
  • treatment within 24-hours
  • non-urgent

Those involved in triage have a detailed operating procedure to help them allocate different dental conditions to the correct category.

How do patients access these urgent centres?

Patients with an urgent or emergency dental condition must not attend any clinics as they need to be triaged first. This system also helps manage the flow to centres and avoid queues (in line with social-distancing measures).

Registered patients

People who have a dental practice and use it regularly should contact their dentist by phone to seek a referral. All NHS dental surgeries should be accessible by phone, even though their doors are shut.

Unregistered patients

People who don’t have a dentist should call the dental helpline in their area:

Added on 9 April 2020, in News - Coronavirus / General news